Obama Offers Jobs Proposals
President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced a series of proposals designed to promote job growth, steps advisers say are being taken in the context of deficit reduction.Key to the claim is news that spending on the Troubled Asset Relief Program will cost $200 billion less than anticipated just months ago. In a conference call with reporters, senior administration officials said the savings will allow them to devote some of the money to reducing the deficit, providing “room— for new spending on jobs while overall not adding to the debt. In addition, some TARP money will be provided to fund a small-business lending initiative the White House believes is permitted under the program.But Republicans charged that the administration was ignoring fiscal restraint, pointing to a new assessment by the Moody’s credit rating service that the United States must whittle down its deficit in order to preserve its AAA ratings. “Despite the highest budget deficit since World War II, the Administration is asserting that because the TARP program costs $200 billion less than they forecast, they can spend more money,— Antonia Ferrier, spokeswoman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), said in a statement. “The Administration’s rhetoric about a commitment to reducing our out-of-control deficit is just that — rhetoric,— she said.Obama used his remarks to take the offensive against the GOP, arguing that he saved the economy from the brink of disaster early this year without Republicans, who he said presided over the creation of the mess and “largely decided to hand it over to others to solve.—Some of the proposals Obama announced Tuesday will require significant input from Congress. The White House wants to provide new tax cuts to small businesses, and the administration is seeking to craft the proposals with lawmakers. Among the ideas it is putting forward for small business are zero capital gains taxes, expensing of up to $250,000 for qualified investments and a tax cut to directly encourage hiring.The president’s plan, which aides said may grow in coming weeks, includes about $50 billion to be obligated over a year for spending on roads and other infrastructure. A third portion of the proposal seeks to spur spending on clean energy projects, including incentives for consumers to conduct “energy efficient retrofits— on their homes and an expansion on Recovery Act programs to leverage private investment in clean energy projects.The new plan would also extend some Recovery Act initiatives to provide unemployment insurance, COBRA subsidies and money to veterans and state and local governments.